Writing an effective software engineer resume is the first step to landing your dream job. This seemingly simple task can make or break your career. Your resume is the first thing the recruiter will read, and with thousands of applications to check, you can be sure that they will be doing so in a hurry.
Your resume has about 6 seconds to capture the recruiter’s attention before they move on to the next one.
One of the most crucial sections of a software engineer resume (after the work experience section) is the projects section. Projects showcase your areas of expertise and make your resume look more authentic. Through your projects, you can show both hard and soft skills and technical and non-technical aspects of your profile.
In this article, we’ll show you how to properly list your projects to create an impressive resume:
Before we begin, understand that when we say “projects,” it’s not restricted to professional projects. You can also list personal projects that you believe will display qualities that the hiring company will admire. Here’s what you can include in your software engineering resume:
1. Professional Projects: List out relevant projects from your past jobs or independent projects you carried out professionally (paid consulting or freelance work). Projects showcase your ability to:
- Develop real-world applications and solutions independently
- Add value to your prospective role
2. Personal Projects: These are side projects you pursued, paid or unpaid. Personal projects showcase:
- Your interest and passion for software
- Your ability to learn, develop, and execute new skills independently
- Your ability to apply your current skills to a broader range of projects
3. Academic Projects: List these if you’re a new graduate or have limited experience. As a junior software developer with some experience or an experienced mid-level or senior software engineer, these can be left out. You can add these projects under the section “Education” if necessary.
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Now, on to the tips that will help you correctly and comprehensively list your projects:
1. Create a Separate Section for Projects or Add to “Work Experience”
If you have considerable professional experience and multiple projects to include on your software engineer resume, it’s advisable to create a separate section for projects. This will increase resume clarity and let your work experience stand out.
If you have only one or two projects to list, they can be included as part of your work experience. However, it’s advisable to separate personal projects from your professional work experience.
Projects are usually listed under the headings “Projects,” “Technical Projects,” or “Additional Work Experience.”
2. Classify as Professional or Personal Projects
List technical projects under separate heads as professional or personal. Professional projects tend to be perceived more favorably as commercial, marketable skills. Personal projects show the recruiter that you’re self-motivated and can work independently.
3. List Each Project With a Header and Project Description
List individual projects in the same way you would your work experience. Maintain a consistent format for all projects listed following formatting guidelines used to list your work experience.
- Project Header: Project Title, Project Start and End Dates, Your Role in the Project, Technologies, and Skills Used
- Project Description: Describe the project in 2-4 bullet points, including the project goal and outcome.
4. Create and Link to an Online Project Portfolio
If you have an online portfolio of projects or an online project or personal website, provide a link to it in your resume. Recruiters can view the project to get first-hand insights on your skills and tech capabilities. For example, link to individual projects in your Github account if you have one.
Hyperlink to your online projects using appropriate words in the project description or by providing a separate, short link. Alternatively, you can include this link in your resume header section, as part of your contact information, as a link to your online profile.
5. List Relevant Projects
List only the most relevant projects showcasing skills that match the job requirements and complement your work experience. List these projects in decreasing order of relevance.
Only include projects that are at par or above your professional work expertise. Your project should show additional skills or depth in a particular proven skill. It should not reiterate skills or experience you’ve already listed under “Work Experience.”
For example, as a senior software engineer, showing a project using commonly-used basic programming languages is not impressive, as this is expected from an experienced engineer at a high-level position. However, listing a project you conceptualized and executed using an in-demand or advanced programming language will grab a recruiter’s attention.
It’s advisable to list only those projects that you have completed successfully.
6. Highlight Technical and Non-technical Skills
You can showcase both technical skills and soft skills used on your projects. This is especially useful if your professional work experience has limited scope to showcase soft skills such as leadership, initiative, management, creativity, resourcefulness, etc.
Did you know that in addition to your resume, you should also optimize your LinkedIn profile to attract recruiters? Check out this article to understand how you can leverage LinkedIn to land tech interviews.
7. Use keywords
When describing your projects, use relevant keywords mentioned in the job description to create a close match.
Pro Resume Tip: Ensure you strike a good balance between work experience and projects. As an experienced senior software engineer, you should focus on your work experience and a few important projects. As an entry-level software engineer with limited experience, showcasing more projects than work experience is acceptable.
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